Town of Graton to get first-ever public park
Krista Sherer | Sonoma West Times & News | November 16, 2016
Open Space District approves $3.4 million for urban projects throughout the county
The town of Graton will soon be hearing the sound of little ones laughing in their new park with the recent allocation of funds from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District’s (District) Matching Grant Program. In one of the most competitive rounds to date, the District endorsed $3,408,124 in funding for seven projects throughout the county on Oct. 25. Two projects in West County were funded, the Graton Green Community Park and an acquisition of an easement for River Lane on Johnson’s Beach.
“Because this was such a particularly competitive round, we increased our program budget to account for the breadth of the exciting projects this time around,” said Matching Grant Coordinator for the District Jennifer Kuszmar.
The Matching Grant Program, which accepts applications every two years, funds acquisitions, restoration and recreational development projects that offer benefits within cities or are on the urban edge of communities.
The Graton park project proposes the creation of the first-ever public park in the tiny town, located beside the District-protected and populated West County Trail. The other West County project that will be funded by the grant is the River Lane acquisition at Johnson Beach, creates an easement for the public in perpetuity.
Sweet Water Springs Water District currently owns the parcel and allows a portion of the land to be used by the public for access to the river.
“They’ve always allowed public use at this site,” said Administrator of Russian River Recreation and Parks District Paige MacDonell. “We’re just securing continued river access for he public and neighborhood there.”
Also a grantee is Andy’s Unity Park, where the funding would allow for the development of picnic areas, a community garden and natural playing fields where relatively few park lands and recreational amenities exist for residents. The Southeast Santa Rosa Greenway project will also be funded, involving the proposed acquisition of up to 57 acres of land for park and open space connecting Farmers Lane in Santa Rosa to Spring Lake.
Other projects include the acquisition of 2.61 acres of parkland in Roseland, recreation development at Steamer Landing Park River Access in Petaluma and the Southeast Santa Rosa Greenway.
Kuszmar said the District received 14 applications in the end of March requesting over $7.2 million dollars and the seven approved projects were accepted in late October.
“The program does prioritize acquisitions of new land and projects that connect the community,” Kuszmar said. “That can take a lot of different shapes but in the end we want to see if we are investing tax dollars into a project that it is something that the community has expressed a desire for.”